The intent was for Gus Manning and the late Haywood Harris to be jointly honored Thursday night at the Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame induction dinner.
Manning, however, declined, preferring to step aside and let his long-time pal be recognized as the Thanks For the Memories recipient for 2010.
"I just wanted it to be for Haywood,'' Manning said of Harris, who died two months ago after a long illness.
"He was as good a friend as I ever had. He was intelligent. He was very humorous. He was just tremendous to be around and I certainly miss him.''
The dinner at the Knoxville Convention Center will honor 10 inductees and several other local athletes who had outstanding years.
The inductees in the 2010 class are: Austin Denney, Chuck Ramsey, Jackie Pope, John Cooper, Carolyn Peck, Dirk Pohlmann, Bill Higdon, Jerilynn Harper Carroll, Bill Kerr and Carmen Foster.
PGA golfer Garrett Willis will be recognized as the professional athlete of the year.
Harris and Manning were virtually inseparable for decades around University of Tennessee athletic events, where both served in media-related capacities. But that was just part of their story.
"I remember all the trips we took,'' Manning said. "We loved to go to the Kentucky Derby and the Final Four.
"I don't know how many miles we put on the car but it was quite a few.''
There were baseball trips to Cincinnati or Atlanta and at least one Indy 500.
Friday nights were for high school football. Monday nights were card games at Manning's house.
"There wasn't any big money on it,'' Manning said. "We just had a good time with the social part of it.''
And then there was long-running "The Locker Room" radio show, in which Manning and Harris grilled the sports information director of Tennessee's football opponent of the week.
It wasn't all sports.
They also enjoyed cultural events and speakers that came to campus. When former UT chancellor Bill Snyder played the Mighty Wurlitzer organ at the Tennessee Theatre, Harris and Manning were usually in the audience.
Harris suffered a stroke in November and his health gradually deteriorated in the spring. He passed away on June 2.
"We kidded right down to the end,'' Manning said. "That was a sad day.''
Tonight will be a happy occasion for the honorees.
Willis, a Farragut High School alumnus, is having his best year of professional golf. He's won $701,173 on the PGA Tour this year and notched his highest finish, a fourth-place tie in the St. Jude Classic.
Mike Capps will receive the Special Recognition Award. He is celebrating his 40th year as director of the Boys & Girls Clubs sports teams.
The co-high school female athletes of the year are track star Patavia Lowery of West and basketball player Taylor Mills of Gibbs.
The male high school athletes of the year are basketball players Jalen Steele of Fulton and Dwight Tarwater of Webb and football star Jaron Toney of Alcoa.
Proceeds from the event go to the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley.